Outdoor Activities and Healthy Ageing and COAL 

The outdoor activities and healthy ageing (OAHA) Research Development Group is an inter-disciplinary, cross-sector research group that is investigating the role of outdoor activities in healthy ageing. The overarching aim of the group is to explore the benefits of outdoor activities for physical, psychosocial and cognitive ageing.

Supporting older people to age successfully is important for individual well-being but also for the local and wider society. It has long been established that engaging in active leisure has significant benefits for transition into retirement and for healthy ageing in general. Evidence is increasing that engaging in activities in natural settings can be particularly beneficial for individuals and it is recognised that outdoor spaces offer an ideal opportunity for group projects that can enhance and sustain communities.

The members of the research group are:

Dr Katie Thirlaway, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Head of Department of Psychology
Professor Linda Clare, Bangor University, Professor of Clinical and Neuro Psychology
Dr Deborah Clayton, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Jemma Hawkins, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Research Officer in Health Psychology
Dr Jeanette Thom, Bangor University, Deputy Head of School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences
Dr John Hindle, Bangor University, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Consultant Geriatrician
Dr Katherine Irvine, De Montford University, Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Psychology
Melissa Marselle, De Montford University, PhD student in Environmental Psychology
Professor Sara Warber, University of Michigan, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
Dr Richard Webb, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Principal Lecturer in Biomedical Science
Clare Bottomley, Age Cymru, Healthy Ageing Team Manager
Glenn Little, Age Cymru, Physical Development Activity Officer
Judith Inker, Welsh Government, Health Improvement Officer
Jeannie Wyatt-Williams, Welsh Local Goverment Association, National Exercise Referral Scheme Co-ordinator
Orla Govers, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Research Support Officer

The research group sits within the Centre for Outdoor Activity and Leisure Research [COAL], which 
aims to investigate the role that outdoor activities and purposeful leisure may play in our health and well-being. Evidence suggests that engaging in purposeful activity is linked to healthy ageing and higher levels of happiness. We also know that engagement with nature can be restorative for many people in times of stress.

COAL comprises a group of researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University from The Department of Applied Psychology, Biomedical Sciences and the School of Sport. This inter-disciplinary mix enables us to draw on a range of expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodologies and to understand psychological, social and physiological parameters. The aim of the group is to understand the myriad of benefits that can be gained from engaging in physical activity or leisure pursuits with a particular focus on the role of the outdoors. We are currently engaged in a wide variety of projects investigating, for example, how gardening, walking, care farming and working with animals may benefit individuals and communities. The majority of our research involves working with real life projects in local communities and our collaborators are key to the success of this work.

To contact us about COAL or the OAHA research group please email COAL@cardiffmet.ac.uk